How do projection and displacement work?


Projection and displacement are psychological defense mechanisms that people use, often unconsciously, to cope with difficult feelings or emotions.

Projection involves attributing one's own unacceptable feelings or thoughts to someone else. For example, if a person is angry but finds it unacceptable to feel this way, they might perceive others as being angry at them, thus externalizing the emotion they cannot accept in themselves. This can lead to misunderstandings and conflicts in relationships because the person believes that others possess these undesirable qualities, rather than recognizing them within themselves 1.

Displacement occurs when a person redirects their emotions from the original source (which might be threatening or unacceptable) to a safer or more acceptable target. For instance, someone might feel angry at their boss but it's unsafe to express this anger directly, so instead, they might come home and yell at their family or kick the dog. Displacement allows individuals to express their emotions without directly confronting the source of their distress, though it can also lead to harm or misunderstandings in the environments where this displaced behavior occurs 1.

Understanding Defense Mechanisms

Explore the definitions and examples of projection, displacement, and projective identification as Andrew and Paul discuss how these defense mechanisms impact our emotions and relationships. Discover how awareness and reflection can lead to positive change in our behaviors and interactions.

Huberman Lab

Dr. Paul Conti: How to Understand & Assess Your Mental Health | Huberman Lab Guest Series